Saturday, 21 October 2017

From The Skald: The Battle of Jutland

And so Leif's warband, who had landed on the coastline of this very flat land, moved quickly inland. Cnut chose to meet him in a broad open area between two hills, where the ravens gathered, waiting for their feast.

His priest by his side, Dane-axe armed hearthguard to the left and warriors to the right, with two pairs of his hearthguard scouts to his far right, Leif advanced his line without hesitation. The gods were favouring him, it seemed, with more sixes on his Saga dice than he knew what to do with.

Opposite, Cnut stood ahead of the line of his men, his warriors on his right facing Leif, two units of hearthguard on the left facing the two pairs of Norse Gaels and the berserkers lurking at the back, trying to stay safe for the time being.

"Call that an Invasion?" Cnut taunted, and his men laughed. But it was as if Leif had not heard him, for the Norse Gael advance continued undaunted and there were even more sixes on the dice. Cnut, becoming slightly unnerved at the confidence of his opponent and the lack of space to move in, stepped a few paces back, feeling a little more comfortable closer to his men.

"It's a very aggressive invasion," he muttered to himself. He exchanged glances with the men next to him. It was time for the Danes to be aggressive now. On the left flank, Cnut's hearthguard charged one pair of the Norse Gael scouts. Backed by the confidence of a six in their How Brave Are You? box, one of the Norse Gaels stepped forward and challenged: "Who's next?" he shouted. After a short pause, briefly considering and dismissing the alternatives, one of the Danes stepped forward. 

The dice gods are fickle, and at this point they changed sides.

"Er.. you were next..." said the Dane as the Norse Gael hearthguard fell in a pool of his own blood, and melee ensued, another man falling on either side.

Cnut smiled. With few Saga dice left on the Norse Gael battle-board, it was time to send the berserkers in, and so they charged the unit of Dane Axe-armed warriors ahead of them. The combination of Dane Axes, Ragnarok, Valhalla and very large handfuls of dice made mutual annihilation inevitable, and thus they all died.

"The boats are still there if you want to go back!" jeered Cnut, trying to hide the worried look on his face. But Leif was having none of it. On the Norse Gael right flank the second hearthguard pair joined the fight, while Leif's remaining warriors threw their javelins at the bondi opposite, rather rudely killing one of them.

With his last unblooded unit of hearthguard beside him, Cnut led a charge into the Norse Gael warriors, three of his men falling for the loss of seven of the enemy, the last Norse Gael warrior fleeing for his life.

A temporary success, but the situation was touch and go. Cnut stood with one faithful bodyguard beside him in the centre of the field, a unit of five of his warriors some distance to his right, two hearthguard running to support him, but still too far away, on his left. Leif stood dangerously close to Cnut, his priest at his side, supported by three Dane axe-armed hearthguard. His last surviving warrior was prudently keeping a safe distance away at the back.

"We shall lose the game to win the game!" Cnut cried, confidently. And as his men puzzled over exactly what he meant, Leif and his remaining hearthguard charged. Now Troll-Hide and Son of Odin are all very well, but even with two extra defence dice and an ablative hearthguard it's a challenge to survive thirteen hits. And thus Cnut fell to the ground.

Leaderless they might now be, but the Danes refused to surrender. Calling to Valhalla, the warriors charged the Viking hearthguard, seeking vengeance. calling to Valhalla, the blades of both sides flew as they gloriously chopped each other to bits, and all were slain. 

The last two Danes on the field, the two hearthguard who had failed to get to their Lord before he had fallen, backed away, but not quite far enough. Leif called on help from the dice gods, and again the sixes came. Three Saga dice became six, and thus Leif, alone, his battle board loaded, charged and cut down both of the enemy where they stood.

Victorious, Leif laid claim to the land.

Cnut, who had somehow survived, nursing his wounds, sneaked away to fight another day.

And the ravens began their feast.

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